“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
We give our assent to God’s grace, that Jesus saves, no buts attached, but we really don’t believe it. It’s too good to be true! After all, there’s no free lunch and the belief that Jesus died for us, was the Perfect Sacrifice, so that we could be reconciled to God doesn’t resonate with our entrenched belief that we must do something to merit this free gift.
However, if we have to do something to merit this gift, the gift is not free and we throw God’s grace back in His face. The fact of the matter is that by trusting in the saving work of Christ to eternally reconcile us to God and to sustain us while on earth is all that we have to do to obtain God’s mercy. That’s the good news of the Gospel! We don’t have to be a particular kind of person to merit God’s grace; all we have to do is yield ourselves to Him, and trust Him in all of our life circumstances.
None of us can stand before a just, righteous, and holy God on our own merits! Our very best efforts fall far short of God’s requirements of righteousness. Therefore, we need a Savior for us to be reconciled to God; through God’s grace, appropriated by our faith (Romans 5:2), Jesus’ Blood covers over all of our past, present, and future sins and thereby reconciles us to God.
We see this phenomenon typified in the Old Testament when the children of Israel were told that they must have the faith to apply the blood of an unblemished lamb on the lintels and doorposts of their homes so that the death angel would pass over those homes. (Exodus 12) Notice, it didn’t matter what kind of people were in those homes. All they had to do was have enough faith to do as God told them and place the blood in those places and their lives would be spared. That blood is a figure of the Blood of Christ that protects us, regardless of our sins, and regardless of who we are, if we but trust Him.
Throughout Scripture, God is exalted! There is only one chapter in all of Scripture, Hebrews 11, which exalts a certain kind of person: a person who trusts God over and above seen circumstances. There is a murderer and adulterer, David, mentioned by name; there is Rahab, a prostitute, mentioned by name. Indeed, David was called a man after God’s own heart! (1Samuel 13:14) That’s how much God values faith! (See Hebrews 11:6.)
God doesn’t particularly care what we do; He doesn’t particularly care who we are! He cares about what He can do through us! He will use our strengths and, more importantly, He will use our “weaknesses” (2 Corinthians 12:9) for His purposes. And when He works through us, He will have us become increasingly conformed to His image, which entails loving other people and, as we have been reconciled to God by the finished work of Christ on the Cross, seeking reconciliation among people with each other and with God.
All people, Christian and non-Christian alike, should take the lesson of the Potter’s house (Jeremiah 18:1-6) to heart! Just like a potter working with clay, God can make of us anything He wants. If He wants to create someone straight, He will! If He wants to create someone queer, He will do that as well! We are not to chafe under the sovereign choices of God! We’re to be the clay that God made of us!
To chafe under God’s sovereign choices, doesn’t do any good and it shows lack of trust in God who loves us and knows what’s best for us and who made us for His own purposes. We are not called upon by God to mimic what is culturally thought to be appropriate expressions of Christianity! We are called to be authentic and listen to His voice, and do what He tells us to do. We are to do His will, regardless of what others, including other professing Christians, think or say.
To do otherwise, is to make gods of others and their paradigms, their ways of thinking, and allow ourselves to be put in bondage to them. We then allow them to usurp God’s call on our lives.
For too long queer people have allowed others to define their reality for them and define for them what God approves and disapproves. They have believed others who said that God despises them; hence, many have despised themselves.
They believed a big lie! The fact is that God made us as we are and, as we are to embrace each other, we are to embrace what God has made in ourselves and yield our very selves to our Creator Who has a plan for each of our lives.
Undoubtedly, God not only has plans for queer people’s lives, but He has enabled those who are His to realize His will for their lives and for the world precisely because He made them queer.
Just as He wanted!
“But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” (Amos 5:24)
God beseeches us to fight for justice and righteousness! In the context of our love for all of God’s creation, the Church, God’s called out ones (“ecclesia”), is to be in the vanguard of embracing and cherishing people; fight any oppression visited upon others.
If any institution in society should be fighting for full and equal rights for queer people, it should be the Church! God’s gay and lesbian children are not only deserving of full acceptance, but must be allowed to marry, not only civilly, but in churches as well!
Unfortunately, many spokesmen for Christianity, who preach a false gospel, have seen to it that gay and lesbian marriages are not performed in virtually all of our churches. These prejudiced legalists have thwarted God’s desire for full inclusion of all of His children in secular society and in the life of the church!
Many people have been sold a bill of goods by the legalists who profess to be Christians, yet preach a false gospel and seek to put other people in bondage to their perverted brand of “Christianity.” These are very dangerous people, in that they give tacit permission for queers to be oppressed; erroneously define Christianity for those who listen to them. They commit the worst sin of all: the sin of pride! (See Proverbs 6:16-19; Luke 18:9-14.)
These perverters of the Gospel (and Paul wrote, “God damn them,” in Galatians 1:8-9), who have attempted to hijack Christianity, appeal to people who like black and white answers in a very gray world; give them rules and regulations concerning how to live, think, and how to make sense out of things they don’t understand or of which they are afraid.
We are not to listen to them, but recognize that Christ is our peace, and by trusting Him and yielding our lives to Him all of us “Öare no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19)
That’s why my wife and I left the Catholic Church! There is great depth and history in the Catholic Church, as well as some wonderful people in it. However, its stand on gay intimacy and its attempt to further oppress gay people in the church and in civil society prohibits us from continuing in that denomination. We now go to the Congregational Church of Chico, a wonderful church that embraces and cherishes all of God’s children! It doesn’t measure Christianity on the basis of who it excludes; rather, it manifests Christian love to all people.
The legalists have attempted to hijack Christianity and make it over in their own twisted image. They froth at the mouth about sexual matters and are seemingly oblivious to corporate sins that cry out to God for redress.
They don’t see that the Bible is our friend, that Jesus paid the full and only price for the redemption of all of our past, present, and future sins, and that God still speaks about the need for justice for all of His children; they convince the biblically illiterate and/or those bound by tradition that their way is the right way and their brand of “Christianity” is the only one to be had. They and their followers don’t heed Jesus’ admonition that they make void the Word of God by their traditions. (See Matthew 15:3, 6; Mark 7:13.)
One of the things that makes the Bible so valuable is the fact that it speaks anew and afresh to each generation, with its unique issues that can be addressed by articulating biblical principles of faith, love, reconciliation, justice, equality, freedom, and liberation. These principles apply to all of us as we are all terribly flawed creatures in need of God’s mercy, and He gives that mercy to those who implacably trust Him.
A picture of God’s mercy to us is the story of Mephibosheth! You can read this account in 2Samuel 9.
King David, a type of God the Father, in fulfilling the warrior/lover covenant he made with Jonathan (1Samuel 20:15-17), a type of Christ, asked, “Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (v.1) Saul’s servant, Ziba, told David about Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, who was lame in both his feet; who resided in Lodebar.
Biblical names have meaning! “Mephibosheth” means “A shameful thing”; “Lodebar” means “The place of no pasture.” King David said to Mephibosheth that he would show him kindness for his father’s sake. (v.7) This account ends by the verse, “So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet.” (v.13)
Without God, we are all shameful things and dwell in a place of no pasture, a wilderness of existential angst and a sense of meaninglessness. In this condition, we rely upon our “reason” that is largely circumscribed by cultural imperatives and our “common sense.”
However, by trusting Christ and His finished work on the Cross, we not only discern God’s plan for our lives, but we are taken from this desert and transplanted by God, for Jesus’ sake, into the Jerusalem of spiritual fulfillment.
Straight and queer, by committing our lives to Christ, we are all invited to sit at the King’s table and thereby partake together as members of God’s family throughout eternity.
Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at California State University, Chico, served as an ordained priest in the Congregational Catholic Church, a division of the Independent Catholic Churches International (ICCI). For many years he published a weekly column in the Sacramento Valley Mirror titled “Christianity and Society,” where he dealt with a variety of social issues from a biblical and sociological perspective. Maneker also published a blog called “A Christian Voice for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights” and the website Radical Christianity.